Christoph Fahle
September 20, 2011

Startup of the week - #10: startnext

Plan A are not the usual climate change fighters. They’re absolutely data-driven and manage to keep a positive mindset and speak in an understandable and engaging manner. We sat down with Lubomila and Nathan from Plan A to understand how they empower others and help businesses and individuals to save our planet and act now.

betahaus: Könnt ihr vielleicht kurz beschreiben was startnext ist?

Anna Theil und Hagen Lindner:

Wir sind eine gemeinnützige Crowdfunding-Plattform für Künstler, Kreative und Erfinder, denen wir über die Internet-Community die Finanzierung von Projekten ermöglichen. Dabei gehen die Projektstarter kein Risiko ein. Allerdings geht es beim Crowdfunding nicht alleine nur um die Finanzierung – der Marketing- und Kommunikationsaspekt ist nicht zu unterschätzen, denn auf unserer Plattform werden kreative Projektideen schon frühzeitig der Öffentlichkeit präsentiert. Am 10. September haben wir mit Startnext unser 1-jähriges Jubiläum gefeiert.

Wie genau funktioniert das, wie kann ich bei euch mein Projekt finanzieren lassen?

Als Projektstarter legst du auf Startnext deine eigene Projektseite an und fügst eine Beschreibung deiner Idee, Bilder und ein Video ein. Dann legst du einen Betrag als Finanzierungsziel fest sowie eine Deadline, bis wann du das Geld zur Realisierung des Projekts brauchst. Sobald die Seite fertig ist, kannst du sie veröffentlichen und über Social Media-Instrumente in deinem Netzwerk bekanntmachen.

Die Community auf Startnext entscheidet, welche Projekte ihnen gefallen und welche sie bei der Finanzierung unterstützen wollen. Als Gegenleistung erhalten die Unterstützer einzigartige Dankeschöns – das kann die limitierte Auflage eines fertigen Musikalbums oder eine Statistenrolle im geplanten Film sein. Für die Unterstützer sind die Dankeschöns und die Möglichkeit, kreative Projekte zu ermöglichen, ein besonderer Anreiz sich an Crowdfunding-Projekten zu beteiligen. Idealerweise zeigen die Unterstützer ihren Freunden dann, welches tolle Projekt sie entdeckt und unterstützt haben und tragen es dadurch weiter in die Welt hinaus. Auf diese Weise wird das Projekt schon vor der Realisierung kommuniziert und bekommt durch das wachsende Netzwerk bereits frühzeitig Aufmerksamkeit.

Und warum kommt den Projekten nur alles oder nichts zugute?

Wenn der Projektstarter sein Budgetziel erreicht, bekommt er das Geld und die Unterstützer erhalten ihre Dankeschöns. Sollte er die 100% nicht erreichen, buchen wir das Geld automatisch zurück an die Unterstützer. Mit dem Alles-oder-nichts-Prinizip minimieren wir das Risiko für den Starter und die Unterstützer. Wenn nur ein Teil des angestrebten Budgets gesammelt werden kann, können die Unterstützer nicht davon ausgehen, dass das Projekt auf die gleiche Arte und Weise umgesetzt werden kann und die Dankeschöns geliefert werden können. Um das Vertrauen der Unterstützer zu gewinnen, ist es wichtig transparent zu machen, wofür das Crowdfunding-Geld konkret benötigt wird. Die Unterstützer werden durch das Alles-oder-nichts-Prinzip zusätzlich motiviert, ein Projekt zu unterstützen und ihren Freunden davon zu erzählen, da sie ja wollen, dass das Projekt realisiert wird.

Wie seid ihr darauf gekommen?

Wir wollen mit Startnext die Idee des Crowdfunding, die in den USA u.a. mit kickstarter bekannt geworden ist, an die hier bestehende Kulturlandschaft anpassen. Kleine Kulturprojekte haben es hier oftmals schwer, öffentliche Förderung zu erhalten und entsprechende Aufmerksamkeit zu bekommen. Startnext haben wir mit der Motivation gestartet, für kreative Projekte eine alternative Möglichkeit über das Internet zu ermöglichen. Die digitale Vernetzung eröffnet für Kultur- und Kreativschaffende viele neue Möglichkeiten, die wir für die Kommunikation und Finanzierung von Projekten nutzen sollten. Wir sind zudem im Gespräch mit Kulturpolitikern und öffentlichen Institutionen, um zu überlegen, ob es nicht Kooperationsmodelle zwischen privater und öffentliche Förderung geben kann.

Die Gründer von Startnext, Tino Kressner und Denis Bartelt beschäftigen sich seit zwei Jahren mit dem Thema Crowdfunding und haben genau vor einem Jahr im September 2010 Startnext in Dresden gegründet. Inzwischen sind wir in unserem Team in Dresden und Berlin zu sechst.

Und wie seid ihr von Dresden ins betahaus gekommen?

Schon Ende vergangenen Jahres war klar, dass wir unbedingt ein Berliner Büro brauchen. Hier gibt es viele Projekte zu betreuen und wir können leichter im Gespräch mit Kulturförderern sein, da in Berlin viele Institutionen und Ansprechpartner sind. Dass wir dann ins betahaus gehen würden, stand irgendwie nie außer Frage, da es ein spannender Ort ist, um sein Netzwerk aufzubauen. Als offener, kreativschaffender Mensch, kennt man das betahaus natürlich, auch in Dresden.

Und was stört euch hier? Was sollte verbessert werden?

Telefonkabinen - irgendwas wo der Schall ein bisschen gedämpft wird, wäre echt gut. Wir hatten mal die Idee den Betablock von Le Van Bo dafür zu nutzen, um besser abgeschirmt zu sein. Ansonsten fühlen wir uns hier sehr wohl. Die meisten Projektinitiatoren aus Berlin kennen das betahaus und kommen immer gerne zu Terminen hierher.

Mehr Informationen zu spannenden Projekten und wie ihr euch bei startnext finanzieren könnt, bekommt ihr hier

In our previous interview from 2017 Lubomila told us about how a trip to Morocco got her really concerned about the future of our planet and absolutely changed her life path. After this trip, Lubomila became obsessed with learning about climate change. She started reading books, taking online courses and pursued her own research which would later serve as the foundation of their current online platform.

Plan A betahaus Lubomila Yordanova Climate Change
A typical working day at Plan A's Team Desk - Photo by Lea GK

Lubomila: I started creating a massive spreadsheet with indicators about every country on our planet. Then I compared how much money flows into these countries with regards to protecting nature, versus what is actually happening in the country. It turned out that there are a lot of discrepancies. That’s when I decided to quit my job in London, move to Berlin and start my own company. And this is how in April 2017, Plan A was born. 

After meeting Christoph (Co-Founder, betahaus | Berlin) at the birthday party of betahaus | Sofia, and talking with him about sustainability in Berlin, Lubomila came to betahaus for a trial month and never left. In the beginning, she worked alone on the project. On her own, Lubomila developed the first version of their website and made a call on social media for people who want to help her with her mission. And this is how Nathan joined Plan A in 2017.

Nathan: I was finishing a project with a former organization that was working in fundraising and communication back then. When I saw the call on social media saying that Lubomila was searching for support to do fundraising for sustainable and  climate action, I directly hopped on the call and we have been working together ever since.

With two people on its team, Plan A started taking shape and turned into the first-ever knowledge and donation platform solely for the fight against climate change. Every month they focused on one project, spreading information and raising money. 

Plan A betahaus Nathan Lubomila Yordanova Climate Change
Nathan working on some content ideas - Photo by Lea GK


Lubomila: One of the biggest issues that I faced really early in the process was that the science behind climate change was really complicated and very poorly or not at all communicated. It was hard for stakeholders to understand the problem and get involved. With the initial platform in 2017, I wanted to make it clear to people how they can get involved, explain the different projects we have running around the world and, what kind of problem they’re solving.

Nathan: It’s important to add that Plan A has always been data-driven. The foundation of anything that we do is the data that we’ve been collecting since the beginning.

Lubomila: Exactly! Having this foundation, we now have two sides of Plan A. One is for the individuals - providing informative content in all kinds of forms and building a community - and the other one is focused on helping businesses become more sustainable. 

Lubomila: Our team has also grown a lot in the last couple of months. We currently have 9 people on the team and we’ve evolved in something like the United Nations because we have people from South Africa, France, India, UK, Australia, I personally come from Bulgaria …

The full Plan A Team - Photo by Lea GK


Nathan: The first step is always to learn more about the problem, understand it in-depth and then find how to make positive changes in your lifestyle, day by day. We as a company try to inform individuals and also empower them to speak up, and use their voice in their surroundings and social circles and so they can start implementing this climate change action on a bigger scale.

Lubomila: That’s why since the beginning, we focus mostly on gathering data on the problem and sharing it in a fun and digestible way. There are a few channels that we focus on when it comes to the connection with individuals. We have The Academy, where we do interviews and expert analysis explaining the problems in a very kind way. We have Mighty Networks, which is a closed platform where individuals and NGOs can talk to each other and exchange knowledge. And of course, we have events, which is a really powerful tool for us to build a community. These events are focused on meeting scientists, on fundraising for environmental organizations or on educating people about issues that they maybe didn't know of.

Nathan: One of the most important parts of your mission against climate change as an individual is making it fun. It’s not about limiting yourself or making huge sacrifices. We rather see it as an opportunity and it can actually be cool.

Small details on Plan A's Team Desk - Photo by Lea GK

Lubomila: That’s true! What we have made sure that happens there and Nathan has been amazing with this, is that we consistently speak positively about the issues, not because we’re in a positive situation, but because the only way you can empower people is by giving them a set of tools with which they can act and encouraging them that they have the capacity to be part of the change. If we continue speaking about apocalyptic statistics, that in 12 years, we're going to die or that you have to blame this stakeholder or that stakeholder, we're never going to get anywhere close to solving the issues. Solving the issues is about collaboration.

Nathan: My main challenge as a head of content was how to get a maximum number of people on board and make them as efficient as possible. Since we are a data-driven company, a lot of my time is spent translating this information into something that is understandable and actionable I’m constantly looking at everything that everyone does outside of Plan A and finding a way to represent our content in a positive and engaging way.

Plan A betahaus Lubomila Yordanova Climate Change
Details from Plan A's Team Desk and Space - Photo by Lea GK

OKAY BUT HOW IS BESPOKE SOUND DIFFERENT THAN PLAYING MY "DISCOVER WEEKLY’’ OR ANY OTHER AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED PLAYLIST ?

Lubomila: The carbon footprint of a company is always involving what's happening in the actual office but it also involves the external partners and choices. We always advise companies to start in-house, looking at what's happening in their office and within their team. As second comes the communication aspect including how you present yourself as a brand and what you communicate to your customers or online followers. Then the final step is actually implementing changes on a product level, looking deep at the supply chain, and checking if all small parts of your product are sustainable - for ex. the packaging, products made with palm oil, etc.

Lubomila: Our focus has been shifted towards actually educating businesses on what is sustainability and helping them connect to actions that can make them immediately more sustainable, and reduce their carbon emission level. This is also where our new tool comes in handy. We have built a platform which calculates, monitors and offsets CO2 emissions, that are created by a certain company and connects them to environments and projects that you can now see on our platform.

Photo by Lea GK

If a company wants to get on their sustainability journey, they come to us and the first thing we do is an initial analysis. We ask them around 20 questions, which gives us an overview of how sustainable or unsustainable they are, we understand what's their emission level on a monthly basis and then we propose to them projects that they can use to offset their emissions. The point of this, and why we shifted is because actually, close to 70% of emissions on this planet are created by businesses. And unfortunately, very few businesses actually have any sustainability strategy. They don't know how to become better and they don't know what they need to do. So, this is where we're helping to kind of giving them an action plan as well as a place where they can immediately support a positive impact.

Vihra (betahaus): We as a company have also worked together with Plan A to create an actionable plan for our spaces and make them more sustainable. They also keep us accountable and support us on our journey. So why don’t you? 
Photo by Lea GK


Nathan: I was really happy to see that there were lots of marches in different places in the city I was really hopeful and happy to see that there were kids, parents, teachers, party crews, everyone was on the streets and it was nice to see so many people concerned and involved with this. This being said, I come from France. Protest there includes much more loud voices, cries and chants and it was what I'm kind of used to. So to me it was very, very orderly but I left very hopeful, actually. 

Nathan: At the same time it’s important to remember that Berlin is a bubble for sustainability

Lubomila: That’s true. There are a lot of projects happening at the moment which sometimes can be deceiving. Because it lets people think that this is what the whole planet thinks and feels. It generates a bit of a fake hope about our moving on the climate change topic. I would say that when Plan A started, it was really difficult to find anyone to speak about climate change. Now. It's kind of THE topic but we still have a long way to go.

Plan A at the Climate Strike in Berlin on 20th September - Photo by Lubomila

Yes! This was really fun. The objective with the betahaus "betabeer sounds" playlist was to showcase the community side of betahaus. There are so many cool, interesting people in the betahaus community and we thought a playlist could be a perfect way to not only help bring the community together but also show the diverse funkiness of the communities of Berlin and Neukölln, which is why Hazy Pockets, a longtime local Berlin DJ known for his eclectic mixes, was perfect for this project.

This playlist moves from bluesy 60s rock into surf and tropicalia, picking up momentum into Motown and onwards through some laid back disco tunes. Perfect for the betabeer events betahaus hosts monthly!


YOU’RE CURRENTLY ENJOYING THE SUN FAR FROM BERLIN. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES in berlin that YOU MISS THE MOST?

Lubomila: This Sunday I just discovered this new restaurant that opened in Mitte called FREA. It’s zero waste and is a result of a crowdfunding campaign. It's a really beautiful place with very good food and nice values.

Nathan: My new favourite place is called Karma Kultur. It’s a little space, arranged with wooden planks and decoration. And I just stumbled upon it while walking around, exploring my new neighborhood. And it’s really nice. The owners try to live fully sustainable or be as fully sustainable as possible.

Lubomila Yordanova, Nathan Plan A and Vihra betahaus Lea GK
Lubomila, Nathan and Vihra in betahaus | Kreuzberg - Photo by Lea GK

If you haven’t already, make sure to follow Plan A’s Instagram account to get your daily dose of fun facts, stories and event updates around climate change.

You can see me around betahaus. Online, you can always check out my website and listen to our public playlists on Spotify. We’re also currently working on a collaboration with betahaus, so a special Playlist curated by is will very soon sound around the spaces in Kreuzberg and Neukölln. 

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